The Trump administration has reopened the cases of hundreds of undocumented immigrants whose deportations were previously deferred under the Obama administration, according to Reuters.
Between March 1 and May 31, federal prosecutors moved to reopen more than 1,300 immigration cases, according to Reuters's analysis of Executive Office of Immigration Review data — more than three times the number reopened under the Obama administration in the same period of 2016.
The Obama administration, by comparison, moved to reopen 430 cases during that period last year, and generally only did so if an individual had committed a serious crime.
Under the previous administration, Obama put a low priority on deporting immigrants who were not considered to be a significant threat to public safety. Attorneys say these newly reopened cases include immigrants cited for only minor crimes, such as traffic violations.
"This is a sea change," former American Immigration Lawyers Association President David Leopold told Reuters. "Before, if someone did something after the case was closed out, that showed that person was a threat, then it would be reopened. Now they are opening cases just because they want to deport people."
At this point, it is unclear how many cases of immigrants who committed crimes after their cases were closed the administration plans to reopen.
The Trump administration’s efforts to reopen previously closed immigration cases have not been publicized, but the move delivers on the president’s promises to crack down on undocumented immigration. This move also follows the plan Trump announced in January to expand the criteria for undocumented immigrants to be deported.
As a presidential candidate, Trump took a hard-line stance on immigration, vowing to build a massive wall along the U.S. southern border and deport droves of people living in the U.S. illegally.
In his first days in office, Trump signed an executive order calling for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire an additional 5,000 agents and ordering "the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border."